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Cowboys' 2014 free-agency review

IRVING, Texas -- During the course of the 2014 season, the Dallas Cowboys signed nine veteran free agents.

Only two were unrestricted free agents: Jeremy Mincey and Henry Melton. The Cowboys signed Terrell McClain after the Houston Texans failed to offer him a deal as a restricted free agent. They also added Brandon Weeden (Cleveland), C.J. Spillman (San Francisco), Dekoda Watson (Jacksonville), James Anderson (Atlanta) and Jack Crawford (Oakland) after they were cut. Amobi Okoye was considered a street free- agent signing as well. Anthony Spencer was not included because he was a member of the Cowboys in 2013.

In all, the Cowboys spent $1.8 million in signing bonus money on their free agents. Melton received $1 million, Mincey received $500,000 and McClain received $300,000.

Here is a review of their work in 2014:

DE Jeremy Mincey: He started every game and quickly developed into one of the Cowboys’ defensive leaders. When Justin Durant was lost for the season with a biceps injury, Mincey joined Barry Church as a captain. Mincey led the Cowboys with six sacks to go with a team-high 39 pressures. He spent most of the offseason and training camp re-shaping his body to be quicker in order to play right defensive end. By all accounts, this was the Cowboys' best signing.

DT Henry Melton: The Cowboys hedged a bet on Melton, considering he was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament and played only three games in 2013 for the Chicago Bears. He had five sacks, but his play tailed off as the year went on and he was close to being inactive for two games. His season ended with a bone bruise on his right knee and was placed on injured reserve before the playoffs. The Cowboys hold a $9 million option for him in 2015 that that will likely not pick up, which would make him a free agent again.

DT Terrell McClain: In the offseason camps he was looking like a steal. He was taking advantage of the added work as Melton worked his way back from injury. But early in training camp he suffered an ankle injury and lost his momentum. He played in 13 games and was credited with 20 tackles by the coaches to go with one sack, three tackles for loss, seven quarterback pressures and one forced fumble.

DT Amobi Okoye: He spent the year on the non-football illness list as he continues an attempt to return from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a brain condition which causes memory loss and seizures. He was cleared for work at the end of training camp but the Cowboys did not rush his comeback. He practiced for three weeks and the Cowboys never added him to the active roster. Perhaps with a full offseason of training he can develop into a rotation player in 2015.

QB Brandon Weeden: His lone start did not go well against the Arizona Cardinals, completing 18 of 33 passes for 183 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, but the Cardinals made a lot of quarterbacks look bad in 2014. He finished the year with three touchdown passes and two picks. The Cowboys have typically carried a more veteran backup to Tony Romo, but the coaches like his ability. Weeden is signed through 2015 and it’s possible the Cowboys look for Romo’s successor, but he goes into the offseason as the no-question backup.

S C.J. Spillman: By the end of the season he was the Cowboys’ best special-teamer, delivering big hits and timely plays. He finished the regular season with 10 special-teams tackles and also saw more time on defense than expected because of injuries. The Cowboys like him well enough to possibly bring him back on a one-year deal in 2015.

DE Jack Crawford: It’s a shame his season came to an end early because of thumb surgery. He was starting to come on before getting hurt against the New York Giants. He had two sacks in minimal playing time and also has the ability to play defensive tackle in a pinch if necessary. He is signed through 2015, so the Cowboys will give him a chance to be part of the rotation once again.

LB Dekoda Watson: He saw action in three snaps after signing with the Cowboys after their trip to London and pulled a hamstring muscle that knocked him out of the final five games. He returned to the playoffs in a special-teams role. The Cowboys will likely look elsewhere for linebacker depth in 2015.

LB James Anderson: Like Watson, he was signed because of his experience, but he was not active for a game. The Cowboys were covering their bases with injuries to Rolando McClain and Anthony Hitchens down the stretch.